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U.S. seeks experts' view to strengthen surveillance capabilities

U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Monday announced plans to establish a review group to look at the government's intelligence collection methods and surveillance capabilities.

Acting at the direction of President Barack Obama, Clapper said the review group will "assess whether, in light of advancements in communications technologies, the United States employs its technical collection capabilities in a manner that optimally protects our national security and advances our foreign policy while appropriately accounting for other policy considerations, such as the risk of unauthorized disclosure and our need to maintain the public trust," according to a statement from his office.

Once established, the group will present its interim findings to Obama within 60 days of its formation and provide a final report with recommendations no later than Dec. 15, 2013.

No details on the size or composition of the group were released.

In a White House news conference on Aug. 9, Obama said the government is forming a "high-level group of outside experts to review our entire intelligence and communications technologies."

New technologies give governments unprecedented capabilities to monitor communications, and there needs to be a discussion of those technologies, Obama said. He said the panel will "consider how we can maintain the trust of the people, how we can make sure that there absolutely is no abuse in terms of how these surveillance technologies are used, ask how surveillance impacts our foreign policy -- particularly in an age when more and more information is becoming public."

Obama promised a new era in intelligence with more supervision, transparency and safeguards in the National Security Agency (NSA)'s collection of electronic information, amid a debate sparked by the leaks of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, which revealed vast telephone and Internet surveillance programs.

Obama also vowed to provide more details about the NSA programs to try to restore any public trust damaged by the Snowden disclosures.

[Source: Xinhua, Washington, 12Aug13]

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Privacy and counterintelligence
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